An inanely smiling staff member called Angela scolding you not to carry liquids in your hand luggage on an endlessly repeating loop possibly isn’t appreciated as you queue for security, chewing your hands because your flight leaves in 17 minutes. But holographic staff members – you may have met them at an airport near you - aren’t technically holograms, but actually projections on a human-shaped screen. Be pleasant, give them a smile in return, or even blow them a kiss: they are only doing their jobs.
‘Full body scanners may not be here to stay. In a move that will please opponents of the controversial security measure, Manchester airport is set to KO its ‘naked’ scanners after a trial of their use finishes next month. The machines, which display x-ray-style images, will be replaced by ‘next generation’ ‘privacy-friendly’ scanners, at least until the European Commission approves the full monty machines for permanent use.
Of course, you can print your own boarding pass, or you have to if you’re flying Ryanair (unless you want to pay a lot for the airline to print them for you). Now passengers will be able to use kiosks to print out their own baggage tags before dropping them off where they will be scanned and checked for weight. This should in theory save you time in the check-in hall. Then you see the queue for the bag drop-off...
Smile for the camera please! We are well used to getting snapped as we head to security, and not just because we’re heading for the pages of Heat. But there’s more to it than taking pretty pictures of our mugs. Scanners verify a person’s ID using face recognition technology, preventing misdemeanours like people swapping tickets to avoid immigration checks. This could also be used to target potential customers with advertising for say, duty free offers. Very Minority Report! “Good morning Mr Anderton…”
American Airlines are replacing paper manuals in passenger plane cockpits. This isn’t because they’re trying to be cool, it makes good business sense. Previously, pilots had to carry 35 pounds of printed manuals and other paper work every time they flew. Now it has all been put into the super lightweight iPad. The weight reduction will save American 1.2 million dollars in jet fuel every year. Some airlines have demanded overweight cabin crew shift the pounds for the same reason.
Airbus aims to imitate technology used by fighter jets by using rolling platforms to tow planes across the runway and then catapult them into the sky. This will help reduce required fuel, thus saving money, and being better for the environment. It would also allow a steeper climb from airports, so planes reach cruising altitude faster, and reduce noise pollution. Other benefits include shortening runways up to a third, minimising land use and increasing airport capacity with the possibility of ‘micro-airports’ being built closer to cities.
Japan Airlines are now using Near Field Communication (NFC) scanners to use passengers ‘mobile phones as boarding passes rather than the traditional paper print-out. For now, this is only on domestic routes where lower security is required but it is a step in the right direction with other airlines considering following suit. Whatever next, self-scan security? Are you carrying liquids? Yes/No? No! That’s not a bottle of vodka in my pocket, honest!
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